Monday, November 14, 2016

Grin and bear it. . .

It seems that no minor issue cannot be turned into a huge crisis and every parent feels compelled to enter into the fray and do the bidding of his or her little boy or girl.  I have watched as parents deal with the catastrophe of an iPad that did not want to connect to the wifi, of hair that did not want to obey the will of the head on which it lived, of the constant need to be entertained, etc...  The once noble art of parenting has become babysitting and the goal of it all is to keep the kid occupied, happy, and content.  When did that become the primary focus of parenting?  What ever happened to grin and bear it? What are we teaching our children by relenting to their every complaint and responding to their every want?  Are we helping them to find their place in the world?  Or are we encouraging them to be weak, fearful, and self-centered adults? 

Over and over again we are confronted with the tyranny of the self-absorbed.  Think of the college student who believes it is assault to face ideas and opinions he does not agree with and finds threatening...  Think of the high schooler who refuses to complete an assignment because he or she does not like the topic or finds it offensive or simply does not want to do it...  Think of the children who carry around their phones and cannot live without them (hence the problem of what to do with them in school, the ever present warning signs at every dental or doctor's office reminding us to turn them off during appointments)...  Think of the dress code and the personal desire for self-expression (or could it be flamboyance) that creates a constant and unresolvable tension...  Think of gender identity which becomes the whim of the day in which the desire of the moment transcends biology, DNA, and reason... Think of the approaching example of Belgium when any child may be allowed to end his or her life when that life becomes unbearable in the view of the child...

I must admit that the ever present cell phone is an invitation to share your displease with anyone who might be listening to voice or text and therefore make what is your problem, their problem. 

But before we go blaming the children, maybe we ought to take another look at the parents who have created such a culture of me under the dictatorship of desire.  When did parenting become the task of resolving every problem your child might face?  When did parenting devolve into the burden of finding happiness for and keeping your children happy?  Is this a burden thrust upon parenting or could it be that parents find it easier to resolve their own unhappiness by making their children happy?  Could it be that parents are giving up parenting in favor of life coaching their children to a future they wanted for themselves but did not get?  Could it be that instead of parenting and its compelling cause to say "no" we as parents prefer to say "yes" lest love be tested by disappointment and grows cold?

I wish I knew the answer.  What I do know is that the parenting that keeps our children children is not the parenting of Scripture.  What I do know is that if earthly moms and dads think it is their duty to make their children happy, those kids will grow up with a perspective on God that will surely lead to an abandonment of the faith.  What I do know is that the home is the best place for children to learn how to deal with the disappointment that life cannot help but deliver later on.  What I do know is that getting past your ego is the first step toward honest maturity and real faith.  What ever happened to telling a child to grin and bear it -- or perhaps, suck it up and deal with it?

The truth is that I find adults becoming more childish and children being kept infantile and adolescent.  We have invented words (think micro-agression) to create a climate in which we think we are owed an atmosphere at home, work, and play that insulates us from anything and everything we do not want to face.  So we live in a world of political correctness which is really nothing more than a version of a temper tantrum disguised behind noble sounding words and concepts that ultimately mean little.

Don't give in, parents!  Love your children enough to make them do what is right when they don't want to, to teach them the value of some suffering in life, to help them come to terms with things they don't like or agree with, and to give up the eternal quest for entertainment.  Love your children enough to insist that they will get over it, they will work through it, and they will be better people for it.  The dictatorship of personal preference and desire offers none of the real happiness and contentment we seek.  Life is messy.  It requires us to face things we don't want or like.  It dumps crap on us all the time.  Calling home is not the solution.  Grin and bear it.  Suffer through it.  Deal with it.  This could be the second best thing we teach our children -- after the Christian faith, of course.

1 comment:

ErnestO said...

By Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
It's hard to imagine today, but there are children whose parents couldn't care less about them. There are people who not only don't feel loved -- they really aren't loved by the people around them or by the families in which they were born. It's unimaginable, but that crisis of uncaring is something we've unleashed in our society in the name of "freedom to do as we please." Amidst all that pain, God's people can be those who at least demonstrate that's there's another way to live, another way to love, to care for those no one else cares about.